It Definitely Makes It Harder To Say Christmas

It was a cold, crisp December afternoon.  I had just gotten out of school and I was walking  home – which was a rare thing.  Even though I lived so close to the school, I was rarely allowed to walk home on my own; mainly because my mother could be considered a “worrier” and, in her defense, I could be considered “mentally ill-equipped to successfully complete simple tasks.”  However, this day was one of those days.  The snow was up to my shins as I trudged home, the wind bit its way through my layers of winter attire, and my breath came out in puffs of white.  Christmas break was quickly approaching and it couldn’t get here soon enough.  The wonders of the holidays were all that were on my mind.  That and a strange odor which began wafting up my nose about half a block from my home.  Foreign…not entirely repulsive but far from pleasant.

As I crossed the street I saw that our front door was open…way too cold for that, so I was confused and starting to get concerned.  I became more alarmed when I realized the strange odor was originating from my home.  I walked in and made my presence known and my father greeted me from the kitchen.  My eyes and nose were burning from this incredibly strong smell – it was like Kool-Aid and rubbing alcohol.  I made my way through the house until I stood, bleary-eyed and coughing, in the epicenter of my father’s mad laboratory.  When I asked what he was doing, he simply answered:

“Making glögg.”

Fast forward umpteen years and now I get the honor and privilege of gassing my own kids in the comfort of our own home.  It has become an annual tradition of concocting my own variations of this Swedish brew.  There are a million ways to vary the final product but the basic base to this yuletide face-melter is simple and extremely healthy!

You start with the spice packet, wrapped in a cheesecloth, which has cinnamon (good for you), raisins (good for you), orange peels (covered something good for you), cloves (good for you), almonds (super food!), and cardamom (I don’t know what the hell these are).  Then you add a crap ton of Port Wine (more fruit – good for you).  Go to the liquor store and ask for a crap ton – these only come in two kinds of bottles: butt load and crap ton.  Don’t get the wrong one.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 8.58.46 PM

Finally, you need Everclear…

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.07.53 PMNow the amount of Everclear is up for debate.  It is, no joke, the strongest liquor you can get…it’s about 95% pure alcohol whereas rubbing alcohol is almost 100% pure.  Which means Everclear, which is made from corn (vegetable) can almost clean wounds as well as rubbing alcohol, ergo, doubly good for you.

Glögg is basically a health food.

However, since Everclear is so strong (like insanely strong…), the more you have to live for = the less of this you should add.

Throw these three components together and boil them until the neighbors complain.  Then it’s playtime!  Add sugar, or apples, or more Everclear, or lemons, or more Everclear, or watch it dissolve a handful of pennies, or add more Everclear.

Then wait for it to cool (or don’t – it will destroy your innards either way) and enjoy.  Serve warm or cold or room temperature – the first one should be the way you like it – the second won’t matter too much – and subsequent ones will probably be consumed straight from the jug, out of a shoe, or lapped off the floor where you dropped the jug (watch out for the glass shards).  The next morning will be kind of interesting – not “headache and nausea” interesting, but more like “regret most of your life choices” interesting.  But that’s just your body releasing the toxins from all of the produce you consumed.  You’ll be fine.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.52.42 PM

“You’ve been drinking.”
“It’s cold outside.  A man’s got to do something to keep warm.” ~ Miracle on 34th Street

If I’m Tired Again, Am I Re-tired?

I already messed up my summertime blogging goal but I had an amazingly awesome reason – I was at my parents’ retirement party.  Yup, they both broke away from the workforce on the same day.  You’d think on their last day, they’d follow their usual schedule just to make it official and to have a countdown of the minutes like New Year’s Eve; but, of course, my parents couldn’t follow “the plan.”  Dad left work 3 hours early and Mom stayed 45 minutes late.  Of course, as far as my parents are concerned, they were both right on time.

My parents are some of the hardest working people I know – there were YEARS that I remember neither one of them taking a sick day.  I remember staying with my grandparents on nights and weekends when my parents had to work odd shifts.  My dad worked all sorts of jobs: metal factory, plumbing supplies, modular office manufacturing.  He had some really interesting jobs like making the big light up signs that businesses use on their storefronts and working in a factory that made those super cool self checkout stations (I LOVE those things).  My mom had the same career for forty years…she sold drugs.

They both were had to deal with– long hours, going to work and coming home in the worst weather, missing important…

She worked in a pharmacy!  She filled prescriptions!  Pharmacy tech. She wasn’t like a drug dealer…no, like the legal kind…oh God…

Anyway, they both paid their dues and I’m very proud of what they went through to make sure my sister and I wanted for nothing and never knew how hard they struggled until we were older.  So, after all the years they did everything for us, when they asked us for one simple request, of course we had to do it for them.  They simply asked to let this event go by without fanfare.  No party, no big acknowledgement, just let them punch out and go home…

…yeah, we totally ignored that and started planning a barbecue.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – respect their wishes, they ask nothing of us, yadda yadda yadda, we gots to get our party on.

My sister and wife took care of the food prep, my brother-in-law was going to run the grill, and I was in charge of the decorations…bwahahahaaaaa.  Game on!

We had to make sure both of them were equally represented – pharmaceuticals and plumbing supplies.  Piece of cake.  First thing I had to do was decorate my sister and brother-in-law’s deck.  Patio lights! Easy peasy, right?  Wrong!  Can you believe they don’t make pill bottle lights?! So, like they say, when life won’t give you pill bottles, buy them on Amazon!  Okay, so that might not be what they say but it’s what I did anyway.  Who loves his parents enough to order pill bottles in bulk off the internet and most likely land himself on an ATF watch list?  This guy!

lights

But how do we ensure equal decorative representation for the padré? Luckily my sister has the same twisted mentality as I do (no doubt we’re related) and suggested a toilet for the chips.  Of course the dip would be kept up in the toilet tank.  Who loves his parents enough to make a toilet they can eat out of?  This guy!

IMG_5317

My brother-in-law and I ran to the liquor store for some crappy wine (we’ll save that debacle for another night) and we were good to go.  The family showed up, the food was cooked (only one minor out-of-control grease fire), the cake was decorated, and we waited for the guests of honor.

The looks on their faces as they drove up made all the planning and work worth it.  Because after all the years of raising us, all the sacrifices they made, all the hours they worked, all the bills and paychecks they had to shuffle, all of those feelings of exhaustion they overlooked to play with us, all of the literal blood, sweat, and tears that were shed so we didn’t have to – my sister and I finally learned the greatest lesson from our parents: that same angry look they gave you when you didn’t listen that scared the hell out of you as a child is ABSOLUTELY hilarious and fulfilling to see when you’re an adult and ignore their one wish to not have a retirement party.  TOTALLY worth getting grounded in my 30s.

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” ~ Abe Lemons

Top Ten Places Where You Rethink Having Children

I promise, promise, promise it is not my intention to only do Top Ten Tuesdays.  My schedule WILL loosen up a bit soon and I’ll go back to my normal ramblings.  Things have been SO CRAZY lately and, the bright side, I am gathering so much more ammunition for this blog once I get back into the swing of things.  One of the things that has caused such a disruption in the writing schedule is the fact that I am still a parent.  I am still a parent because, apparently, we aren’t allowed to sell them on eBay. BUT they are good inspiration for things such as this week’s list:

THE TOP TEN PLACES WHERE YOU RETHINK HAVING CHILDREN!

10.  Sporting Events

You’d think a place where things are supposed to be loud and obnoxious is the perfect location to bring your little minions without worrying.  You thought wrong, Hoss!  First of all, a hot dog costs a small fortune and I believe you need to give up a kidney if you want to feed the whole family and, let me tell you, the pickiest eaters end their hunger strikes as soon as they walk into the stadium.  You could be convinced that your child is the next Gandhi until the food venders walk by your seats and all of a sudden they’re as dangerously expensive as having a seizure at an auction!  Hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, ice cream, drinks in a collectable spinning glow-in-the-dark wearable gallon jug with free refills to guaran-damn-tee that they will have to go to the bathroom during all of the best plays of the game forcing you to take them to the most vile bathrooms on the planet where you explain why everyone is peeing in the same metal bathtub while simultaneously playing a game of “don’t stare at that.”  When you finally give up and head for the car, your child will have an aching stomach, an armful of souvenirs you had to remortgage your house for, and a fresh set of vocabulary words courtesy of your seatmates whose only coherent bits of drunken ramblings contained four colorful letters.

9.  Disney World

I went to the Magic Kingdom when I was a senior in high school.  It was AWESOME!  My sister and brother-in-law went after they got married and didn’t want to leave.  What did we have in common?  We went without children.  It is certainly the happiest place on Earth…unless you’re a parent.  Then it’s expensive and hot and full of things that make children cry.  According to a survey that I’m completely making up, the things that make small children cry are being uncomfortable, being too hot, being hungry, waiting to do things, wanting things you won’t buy them, being tired from a hectic day, and hearing other children crying because of all the aforementioned reasons.  And, thus, we realize the magic of Disney is powered by children’s tears and parents’ broken souls.

8.  In Bed

Get your minds out of the gutter.  I’m talking about good ol’ comfy sleepy time goodness!  Bad dreams, bed wetting, strange noises, monsters in closets, thunderstorms, or no freaking reason at all and all of a sudden you have a mini-tyrant squeezing under the covers and taking up twice as much room as you do even though they’re a quarter of your size.  Now this little tyke with whom you’ve tried endlessly and unsuccessfully to perfect their aim and timing to kick a soccer ball or swing a baseball bat can catch you with a punch to the throat or a kick to the groin LITERALLY with their eyes closed!  I remember when I was little and sought refuge in my parents’ bed, it was the best sleep I had in my life…now I know why.  I might need to bunk with them again for a while.

7.  In the Car

No, we’re not there yet.  No, we’re not stopping for snacks again.  Of course we can listen to your music, especially that one annoying song and I wouldn’t dream of not putting it on repeat.  No, we’re not there yet.  We have three and a half hours to go.  No, I don’t know how many seconds that is.  Please don’t count until we get there.  Which one of you…oh God, roll down the window.  We just stopped for the bathroom and you didn’t have to go!  No, we’re not there yet!  About two minutes closer than the last time you asked.

6.  Work

There are few experiences more humbling than bringing your children to where you work.  This is the place where you get paid to come across as a person who has their act together.  You might even be the boss!  And then they come in.  Remember that vocabulary from the sporting event or the time you told them you weren’t pulling over at the rest stop and they had an accident or what your pajamas look like?  Now is their time to share all of this information with your coworkers.  Things you don’t even remember happening will all of a sudden come into light.  And, let’s face it, kids are cute and always have your coworkers’ attention – so they have a captive audience ready to absorb every excruciatingly embarrassing detail.

5.  Family Gatherings

You’d think you’d be safe with family…you’re not.  Even if you have awesome kids and you think your parenting game is strong – this is the place where your reality gets body checked into the boards!  Because, now, there are probably more than just your kids there and they’re related so their powers are amplified!  So.  Many.  Children.  All the parents are huddling in fear as this mini mob, hopped up on juice boxes start chucking frisbees and water balloons all over Pawpaw and Meemah’s backyard.  And they think they are just “so adorable” and “kids will be kids” and “you were a handful too.”  Well, that’s all well and good, but they have to come home with ME after YOU washed solid bricks of red dye #5 down their gullets with a bath of Jolt Cola!

4.  Church

I’m sorry Lord, it’s not you, it’s me.  Actually, no.  It’s not me, it’s them.  I can’t remember ever going to church when there wasn’t a screaming child testing the building’s amazing acoustics or yelling out that they have to go potty during a moment of silence (yes, I remember, this is a little pot calling the kettle black situation seeing as what I did during a moment of silence).  And there is so much for them to trip over and bump their head on which leads to a cringeworthy echoing thump which resonates for a moment of shocked silence from the child before the wailing starts.  There are also SO MANY people that your child can “tell the truth about.”  I know it’s a church and there’s the whole “thou shalt not lie” thing, but it’s not a lie if we just don’t talk about that man’s funny looking pretend hair or that lady’s wiggly arms. Churches need to make drive through blessing stations for parents…we need all the help we can get.

3.  Movies

First of all, you will have very few opportunities to see any movies that don’t contain singing woodland creatures.  But, once in a while, you’ll be interested in something your kids want to see.  Lego Movie?  Finding Nemo? AWESOME FLICKS!  But it’s almost better to force yourself to go to the awful movies, because you won’t be able to pay attention anyway.  You’ll also have issues seeing because NO CHILD ever says, “Hey let’s sit toward the center so that we have the best position.  No, it’s either front row or back row.  And, like the sports outings, they’ll want armloads of snacks, but they’ll use your arms as the snack caddy.  So you’ll be passing and taking back popcorn, candy, nachos, and slushies for the film’s entirety. You will also be questioned like a crime’s primary suspect about who someone is or why they’re doing what they’re doing or what’s happening. Haven’t they watched as much of the film as you have?!!  You didn’t direct it!  If they would just keep shoving popcorn in their mouth and paying attention they would know!  And, hopefully, there isn’t a surprise at the ending, because that’s when the inevitable potty break will occur.

2.  Restaurants

Your little one would probably eat a hot dog for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day if you let them.  But if you order them a hot dog at a restaurant it’s like you’re asking them to eat eels.  They only want to eat one thing…whatever it is you ordered.  And YOU KNOW they don’t like what you ordered but they insist it’s what they want, so you share and they hate it and you try to hold back a massive “No &$#*, Sherlock! That’s why we ordered you a hot dog!”  And I think restaurants challenge each other to see how many projectiles they can put on their tables – sugar packets, creamers, salt and pepper shakers, jellies, crayons, silverware, and on and on and on…and on the floor they all go.  They’re volume inexplicably goes up a few hundred decibels and you can feel the eyes from other tables turning your way.  You swallow your food so fast that you forget what you ate by the time you make it back to the car but you’ll be sure to remember what your little minion ate because they shoved some in their pants to be found later.

1.  Grocery Stores

To be honest, I don’t like going grocery shopping even WITHOUT kids. But having them with is a whole new challenge.  You put on cartoons and they turn into catatonic lumps on the couch.  You bring them to a grocery store and all of a sudden they have ninja-like reflexes and everything within their reach is coming off the shelves.  And everything is liquid in glass or millions of pieces of dried goods in easily opened boxes and the poor pimply-faced high schooler hasn’t finished your clean up on aisle 3 before aisles 4, 5, and 6 are in need of his attention.  And WHOEVER thought up the grocery cart with the car on it is the antichrist!  It’s irresistible to children and impossible to drive through the store!  And the checkout lane designer who loaded it with balloons and candy?  OH HOOOO – there is a special place in Hell for you, my friend!  Do you know who designed these things?  Grandparents!  Because they remember what we were like and they are silently adding obstacles to our daily lives as payback!  Very sneaky, Grams and Gramps, very sneaky indeed…but remember, when we ship you off to the retirement home, we’re sending the grandkids to spend time alone with you and there is nowhere for you to run!  Game on…

“Be nice to children, for they will choose your rest home.” ~ Phillis Diller